Like I mentioned with the switch over to the Top 1000 list, there are a number of older albums that I listened to as part of a previous blog. This was back in 2009 … and I think my views on music have changed somewhat. Or maybe not, but hey it’s good to keep crossing these off so for these three weeks will be playing a game of catch-up.
This is a band who I have previously defended to the hilt in a random drunken argument in a Micklegate chip shop as one of the big influences to come out of the sixties, alongside The Beatles and (if this argument occurred now) The Rolling Stones. It was one of those standard arguments, the guy said that all this music was terrible, then I chimed in saying how Queen, his favourite band, wouldn’t have made the music that they made. This of course a bit of aggravation on his part but it’s a truism that I maintain to this day.
I will be the first to admit that for my third term in university I had a bit of a love affair with Pet Sounds and yet I never really gave any of their albums a proper go. Thus I commenced my listening to Today! with complete gusto and the pay-off was almost immediate as I leapt into the happy summer half of the album that sets your soul alight. What The Beach Boys knew how to do very well was how to use harmony for the ultimate emotional expression. It doesn’t matter whether it is upbeat or a ballad they still know how to use their collective voices to just inspire that immediate connection that a lot of artists somehow miss out on.
The highlight of the upbeat first half is ‘Help Me, Ronda’ and is a perfect example of when I say that Today! is the first album that makes me really feel like I am actually in the sixties. This is very apparent on the track ‘Don’t Hurt My Little Sister’ through the use of the lyrics “you know she digs you and thinks you’re a real groovy guy”. So sixties that it makes me want to watch re-runs of The Banana Splits, while obviously whizzing through the cartoons. Then there is the amazing ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’ which is a complete throwback to their first hit single ‘Surfin’ USA’ and not in a bad way.
Only The Beach Boys could succeed here in making you not feel just happy but also feeling rather groovy. Then we have the second ballad filled half, a half that I usually dread, but somehow they pull it off. In all of these you can see the seeds that have been sown for the forthcoming ‘God Only Knows’, which will rear it’s head soon. It is also here that I heard a very clear influence here on the early works of Of Montreal. My favourite of the ballads is without-a-doubt She Knows Me Too Well, and not just because it reminds me of Of Montreal’s ‘Eros’ Entropic Tundra’.
This is a bit besides the point, sorry, but I do love trying to find the routes that musical evolution has taken. Don’t get me wrong this isn’t Pet Sounds but frankly what really is anything like Pet Sounds? Today! serves as a brilliant introduction as to what The Beach Boys were, musical pioneers. The lush production that you see on here and on all their albums are unlike anything I have heard up till now on this list and these techniques will be used ad nausea for now it is seen as the norm. Brian Wilson is a genius and this album is a testament to that